Best Practice

Improving RSE: Five urgent steps for schools

New research has shown just how poor many young people’s experience of relationships and sex education still is. What are the key problems? And how can secondary schools get RSE back on track so that quality of provision improves? Lucy Emmerson offers some practical steps

The findings from the Sex Education Forum’s poll of 1,000 young people aged 16 and 17 (SEF, 2022; see also SecEd, 2022) paint a worrying picture.

Despite relationships and sex education (RSE) becoming statutory in all secondary schools, with all schools expected to follow the new statutory guidance (DfE, 2019) in full since September 2021, only 35% of the young people rated their RSE as “good” or “very good”, which is down six percentage points on the ratings from a similar poll in 2019.

In fact, 22% rated the quality of their school RSE as “bad” or “very bad”, up by four percentage points from 2019.

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